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Nairobi and Coast counties isolated : The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta when he made an address on enhanced measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic at State House, Nairobi on April, 6 2020.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order stopping movement into and out of Nairobi has effectively banned upcountry travel and disrupted domestic flights.

It has also locked out individuals who work in the city but live outside the mapped metropolitan area from their places of work or business.
The operations of the Standard Gauge Railway commuter train, long distance bus companies and shuttles that either start or end their journey in Nairobi will be disrupted following the order of a 21-day cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi, where the first Covid-19 case was confirmed. The capital city has since recorded the highest number of the 158 coronavirus infections.
The ban that applies to boundary within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area came into force yesterday at 7pm, affecting travellers who were either already enroute to Nairobi or planning to depart from various city bus stations for upcountry.
SEE ALSO: China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reportedIt implies that travellers who were on transit to either Nairobi or upcountry for business or work-related assignments – and were able to beat the curfew – had the options of either cutting short their journey, or proceeding but being forced to stay at their destinations for the next three weeks.
Nairobi is a major circuit for most local flights, meaning airline companies will have to suspend a big chunk of their operations during the restriction period, and only continue with flights to towns not affected by the directive.
MPs who are set to attend the National Assembly special sitting tomorrow to discuss tax measures announced by President Kenyatta but were still in their constituencies by last evening will also be locked out unless they secure an exemption.
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A similar restriction to movement will be enforced in Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa – which have also recorded coronavirus infections – but the ban will be enforced from tomorrow at 7pm.
The nationwide 7pm to 5am curfew remains in force.
SEE ALSO: China confirms virus spreading between humansHowever, the movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal during the declared containment period through road, railway and air.
According to the order, the Nairobi Metropolitan Area includes Nairobi City County; part of Kiambu County up to the Chania River bridge (Thika); Machakos County up to Athi River and including Katani; and part of Kajiado County including Kitengela, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai and Ngong Town.
No passenger train
There are hundreds of employees and businesspeople who reside outside the defined area but commute to the capital city every morning. The order implies that they will now have to work from home from this morning, or take work leave for the next 21 days.
Already, Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga has announced the suspension of SGR passenger trains. Operations of two Madaraka Express trains that operated daily at 10.30 am were consequently suspended.
SEE ALSO: Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyondMr Maingi, however, said cargo freights will continue operating uninterrupted, as will Nairobi Commuter rail services to Ruiri, Embakasi, Syokimau and Kikuyu stations under revised timings to cater for the hours of the curfew.
Uhuru made the cessation of movement orders as he announced an additional 16 new infections and two deaths. So far, 158 people have been infected with Covid-19, and six have lost their lives to the viral disease that has become a global pandemic.
The president said the additional restrictions, as uncomfortable as they are, are necessary following the trend that has been noted by the Ministry of Health that the four affected counties are high-risk areas.
Of the 158 cases, he said, 82 per cent are residents of Nairobi, while 14 per cent are from Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa. The president warned the pandemic is likely to continue spreading with lethal effect if drastic action is not taken.
“There is a choice we were asked to make as a government and as a people: to carry on as normal or to treat this like the extraordinary emergency it is and to fundamentally change how we act,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- GovernmentUhuru said in issuing the additional measures, he is well aware of the inconvenience it will cause Kenyans.
“However, not doing it will lead to even greater suffering for the people of Kenya,” he said.
The movement of cargo, as per the previous order that effected the ongoing 7pm to 5am curfew countrywide, is still allowed, but with additional adjustments.
“Any cargo-carrying vehicle or vessel shall be charged to a single driver and designated assistants, all of whom shall be designated as such in writing by the owner and operator of the said vehicle or vessel reference to that vehicle or vessel,” said Uhuru.
He added that despite the restrictions that limit the number of hours spent on building the economy, traders and farmers of fresh produce should continue with their activities to ensure continued supply.
“No one should be denied the ability to carry on with legal trade within the boundaries of the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health,” the president said.
Unforgiving virus
Uhuru noted that while a majority of those who get Covid-19 recover without showing severe symptoms, they can still spread the disease to large numbers of people, leading to unprecedented pressure on already scarce medical facilities and causing an unimaginable loss of lives.
“The virus is unforgiving, and its rate of growth, if not arrested, is exponential,” he said. “I will, therefore, go to any lawful length to respond to this pandemic.”
Uhuru said governments around the world have gone to extra lengths to contain the virus and flatten the curve. He added that wearing a mask whenever one is out in public is now necessary, and to take precautions not to expose anyone who is as old as he is – 58 – or with underlying medical conditions.
“There are thousands of tailors all over the country who will also look to make masks. The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry and Trade should ensure that these tailors are provided with the right materials and proper ways of piecing the face masks,” he said.
The president further assured Kenyans that his administration is doing everything in its power to cushion Kenyans from the harsh realities that would come with the changes. Apart from Sh10 billion earlier approved to be disbursed to the elderly and orphans, he said collective management organisation will this week distribute Sh200 million to artistes and performers.
He directed the Ministry of Sports and Culture to disburse Sh100 million to actors, musicians and artists.

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Amend law to give counties more money, Ottichilo urges: The Standard

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Governor Wilber Ottichilo (centre), his deputy Patrick Saisi (left) and county officials dance in honour of the late John Nzenze during the Madaraka Day press briefing in Vihiga. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

WesternGovernor proposes increasing funding to counties from the current 15 per cent to at least 40 per cent.

Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo has called for constitutional amendments that will see county governments get an increase in revenue allocation to spur economic growth within the devolved units.

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Dr Ottichilo, who was speaking in Mbale town yesterday, asked the committee working on the harmonisation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report to include the proposal of increasing funding to counties from the current 15 per cent to at least 40 per cent.
Ottichilo said that the increased funding will ensure counties have enough money to spur economic growth as well their development agenda since they will be managing their own IFMIS system.
“I am hopeful that Kenyans will support the amendment of the constitution for a better Kenya,” the governor said.
SEE ALSO: Kenyans divided on call for law changes
Ghost workers
Ottichilo also revealed that he was undertaking a fresh audit of the county staff in order to get rid of ghost workers who have led to a bloated wage bill.
The county boss further told healthcare workers that they will be getting their pay on time to avert the now commonplace downing of tools.
“Issues of delayed salaries will be a thing of the past. Their promotions are being worked on by the County Public Service Board (CPSB) in the 2020/2021 financial year. I urge them to continue with the good job they are doing since the deadly virus is yet to be contained in the country,” said Ottichilo.
He has also expressed his sincere gratitude to the forefront health workers in the county for their exemplary efforts in helping residents prepare for the novel coronavirus despite the challenges they are facing. 
SEE ALSO: Uhuru: Why I can’t wait to change the law
“We shall forever be indebted for your kindness, hard work and resilience.”

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Low number of the coronavirus cases in Africa baffles scientists

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By BERNADINE MUTANU

Like most African countries, Kenya has recorded few coronavirus deaths and infections.

With 71 fatalities and slightly more than 2,000 cases, Kenya may be lucky even as the pandemic ravages Europe, the United States, South America and other parts of the world.

Except for North Africa, where 1,900 deaths have been reported, the other regions – East, West, Central and Southern Africa – had registered 2,394 combined by yesterday.

Africa has about 152,500 Covid-19 cases, with 4,344 deaths and 64,047 recoveries.

Compared with other parts of the world and initial disease models, Africa is doing well in terms of the number of infections and deaths.

And now, researchers say Africa is a unique case.

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A youthful population and warmer weather are reducing the transmission of the deadly virus, according to a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The research by a team of Kenyan scientists says a combination of the two factors “is likely to contribute even more to the low transmission and reduced disease severity in Africa”.

The researchers reviewed recent studies conducted elsewhere and analysed and compared disease patterns and trends in Italy, the United States, Nigeria and Kenya.

“The contrasting trends of the pandemic in countries presented and the studies cited make the combined effects of warmer weather and youthful population a compelling explanation of the low Covid-19 transmission and severity in Africa,” the report says.

The study adds that the premise that Africans are not getting the coronavirus or dying from it because of pre-existing immunity from exposure to cross-reacting coronaviruses “is intriguing but requires further studies”.

The researchers argue that due to the high transmissibility of Covid-19 in vulnerable populations, the few cases introduced in Africa could have triggered a full-blown local epidemic.

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But the rate of transmission is still low in Africa, months after the first cases were reported.

African countries’ mitigation measures seem less stringent compared with Europe and the US.

Social distancing is almost non-existent in Africa while lockdowns were not practicable “because of poverty and reliance on the informal economy”.

It means that while measures taken by governments to control the spread of the virus may have worked, they may not have been effective in controlling a spiral infection.

The continent is poor and it was expected that increased Covid-19 infections would overwhelm its health systems.

A team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did a mathematical modelling in April, which projected that Africa would have 450,000 coronavirus cases by the second week of May.

The researchers projected that every country in East Africa would have at least 10,000 cases by May 10.

At the beginning of May, WHO predicted that 183,000 to 190,000 people could die of Covid-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic “if containment measures fail”.

The lower transmission rate of Covid-19 in Africa, says the UN agency, suggests “a more prolonged outbreak over a few years”.

But it appears Africa is resilient, and many countries are considering reopening their economies.

A recent study showed that Africans are four times less likely to die from Covid-19 compared with Europeans and North Americans.

They are two times less likely to die from the disease compared with Asians and South Americans.

The researchers, however, said if the WHO prediction comes to pass, where Africa could still record increased cases and deaths in the coming months as demonstrated in Brazil, the progression may dispel the hypotheses the study deemed compelling.

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MCAs blame Atwoli, Oparanya for Wetang’ula woes and Luhya division: The Standard

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Kakamega County Assembly ward reps address the press at a Kakamega hotel, June 2. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

WesternReps says anyone seeking support of the Luhya must go through Mudavadi and Wetang’ula

Political temperatures in Western Kenya have heightened following the staged coup to oust Senator Moses Wetang’ula from Ford Kenya party leadership position.

Local leaders led by over 15 ANC Kakamega County Assembly ward reps yesterday pointed an accusing finger at the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu-K) Secretary General Francis Atwoli and ODM leader Raila Odinga over the Wetang’ula party woes. 
The MCAs led by the Assembly’s Minority leader, David Ndakwa, accused Raila of using Mr Atwoli and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to destabilise the leadership of Ford Kenya and ANC parties so as to benefit from the Luhya vote in the 2022 elections.
Four days ago, a coup in Ford Kenya saw Wetang’ula replaced by Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi as the acting party leader.
SEE ALSO: Nairobi’s new cycle lanes, walkways prompt ‘Uhuru and Raila’ night visit
The ward reps have vowed that anyone seeking the support of the Luhya community must first go through Musalia Mudavadi and Wetang’ula and not Atwoli or Governor Oparanya.
“Some people have taken our previous kindness for our weakness. We have helped them achieve their political ambitions using our innocent support in times of need at the ballot. They are now having illegal gatherings at Atwoli’s home in Kajiado to fight our own sons,” said Ndakwa.
He added: “Some of our leaders have succumbed to the political machinations and intimidations by our adversaries by accepting to participate in illegal gatherings serving the interests of other people. We therefore say no to these levels of deceit and conmanship.”
Ndakwa said ANC was solidly standing with Wetang’ula at a time when ‘dark forces’ attempted to stage a premature coup against him, adding that an enemy or the problem of Ford Kenya is also an enemy of ANC party.
“Any individual, community, parties or organisations willing to support or work with the Mulembe nation must channel such negotiations through Mudavadi and Wetang’ula our undisputed leaders,” said Ndakwa.
SEE ALSO: Msajili wa vyama asema Wetangula angali kinara wa Ford Kenya
Butsotso South MCA Walter Andati said other groupings led by Atwoli have no mandate of the community and therefore cannot speak on behalf of the community.
“They are telling us that they are strategising to be in the 2022 government but for us we want to form the next government and not to join others. Time for political auction is over. Other tribes have their kingpins and are always respected. We demand respect for Mudavadi and Wetang’ula,” said Mr. Andati.
“We are not cohabiting with the government or forming a coalition with them as we are not part of them. We are only cooperating with the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government over national issues like Covid-19, revival of economy and floods,” said Farouk Machanje, the Isukha South Ward Rep.
Kholera ward MCA Godliver Omondi and Kakamega ANC Youth leader Emmanuel Buchichi asked ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna to stop insulting Mudavadi since they are not equals. The two reminded him to stick to ODM party affairs.
Mr Sifuna on Sunday castigated Mudavadi for linking Raila to the woes facing Wetang’ula, terming Mudavadi as a perennially programmed leader, a professional mourner, fence sitter and one who sees the ghosts of ODM everywhere.
SEE ALSO: Kamar succeeds Kindiki as Senate deputy speaker
At the same time, Bishop George Mechumo has called on Atwoli to stop creating divisions in the Luhya community but instead unite them.
Bishop Mechumo of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Diocese of Bungoma faulted a move by Atwoli to take a section of Luhya leaders to his home in Kajiado where they planned matters affecting the community without the input of other leaders.
Mechumo said Atwoli should involve all and sundry stakeholders in Western Kenya to drive the common agenda of the community in clinching the Presidency which has been elusive from Independence.
“If he did proper consultations with other respected leaders we would have told him that from 1963 we have not lead the country and its high time to lead,” said Mechumo.

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